Monday, July 30, 2007

Cross Training

It's not really cross training, as it is training for cyclocross. I took my 'cross bike out this afternoon for an easy spin to flush the legs out after the weekend's abuse. After a spin around the park, I put the bike on my shoulder and ran home.

It was a good workout, and gives the neighbors something to talk about!

Seven Oaks

I went out to Seven Oaks to do a few laps in a continued effort to shake off the cobwebs that accumulated during my mid-season break. My companions for the day were Team 14 mates Nick and Aaron.

Nick is well known in Iowa mountain biking circles – everyone has met Nick. Aaron is a young mountain biker that has shown some real promise lately. He recently won a Gold medal in the Iowa Games mountain bike race a couple of weekends ago. He has a background in track and cross-country, so endurance sports are not new to him

We all met up in the parking lot and took off on the course. Seven Oaks is in great condition right now. The tread is perfect, the moisture content is perfect, and everything is pretty well maintained. Aaron led, with Nick and I taking turns chasing him. Aaron had no trouble staying in front of me. He didn’t even look like he got winded doing it. Nick and I got a good workout chasing Aaron.

After the first lap, Nick stayed in the chalet to watch the end of the Firecracker 400 (wtf?), while Aaron and I rode another lap.

This was right after Nick told me he'd rather watch cars going in circles than ride his bike.

I was feeling pretty good this lap. My legs had opened up some, and I was keeping up with Aaron on the flats (on the hills - not so much).

Then I went over the bars. I happened so fast I didn’t have time to prepare (probably lucky). I was setting up for the G-out, and in my approach I clipped a tree with my bars, and I went head first into a mulch pit. Lucky for me it was nice, soft mulch. I got up, brushed myself off, took inventory of my bits, and headed back down the trail.

Gotta give a shout out for my Oakley Half-Jackets. This is the second time that I have pile driven them into the ground (the first was at Lewis and Clark). In both cases I landed face first, and I just assumed that the glasses were destroyed in the crash. In both cases the glasses came out unscathed. I’ll stop short of calling them indestructible, but they are pretty darn durable. They are definitely more durable than I am.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Return to Gravel

I went for a gravel ride this morning to shake out the cobwebs. It worked.

4 cars, 2 trucks, 6 dogs, 6 horses, and 3 hours. Beautiful!

I'm going to Boone to do a few laps tomorrow around 1:15 if you are interested.

Monday, July 23, 2007

A Little OT

I try to keep this blog on topic, but ocassionally I stray. Today is one of those days.
We have a new addition to the family!

He is a 70 lb slobber monster that Keaton has named Charlie (I voted for a manly name like "Duke", but was voted down). He is a two years old labradoodle. Previously he belonged to an older gentleman who passed away. Needless to say he has some separation anxiety issues that we are working through.
Christy and I lost a dog a few years ago (he had been with me for 16 years), and it was very hard on both of us. We decided to wait a few years to take on another one. With Christy's retirement, now is a good time. They have bonded.

You'll be seeing him at the 'cross races this fall.
Oh, back on-topic, I did a couple of hours of gravel on Saturday, some Story county single-track on Sunday, and some hill repeats tonight. I'm still trying the shake the effects of a rest week. Rest weeks are necessary in the big picture, but they result in some dead legs for a few days. I'm almost back. There is no hurry.
I'm at a dead spot on the schedule, so it is a good time for some rest and rejuvenation. The next race on my schedule isn't until Sugar Bottom on August 19th, but I might try to make it down to the Waterworks practice series on the 9th. I had considered doing the state road race championship, but then I looked at a map. Have I mentioned that I suck at climbing?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

It's Time

That's me kicking back on the deck after my first run in about a year. It's a rest week for me so it was a good time for something different. I've also been preaching the benefits of running around the 'net, so today seemed like a good day to start eating my own cooking.

It was not a long run, or a fast run. It was 3 miles in about 30 minutes. But it felt pretty good. The funny was I couldn't get my legs to run fast enough to get winded. I guess my heart and lungs are a lot stronger that my running legs.

Running has some good points:
  • Don't need to check air pressure in runnning shoes before a ride.
  • Never had a running shoe get a flat.
  • No lubing of chain to worry about.
  • Good running shoes lots cheaper than a good bike.
  • Don't need to worry about wind direction on a run.
But I'd still rather ride my bike. Now where did I put those practice barriers . . . .

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Rest and Reflection

I'm resting this week, so you get a little bit about a lot of things:

The Iowa Games Mountain Sport Class Bike Race -

Third place (Bruce Reese) finished in 1:01:37, and eighth place (Shawn Looomis) finished in 1:03:11. For the math challenged, that's 94 seconds across 5 places. That's pretty fricking close. No wonder Bruce and I were pushing so hard the whole race. One bobble in a corner and I would have lost at least three places.

Chris Hansen and the Boone 24 -

Calling Chris Hansen. $1000 goes to the winner of the Boone 24. Have you considered doing it solo? We all know you can go without proper sleep. Besides, when was the last time you didn't win a race? Might as well enter a big one. FWIW, Christy has volunteered to swat beers out of your hand all night if that's what it takes. Let me know. We'll be there for you.

Four man Boone 12 Team -

Last year Sean, Thad, Rob and I did the 4-person 24 hours class at the Boone 24. We had fun, but decided that we could do better if we tried. We vowed to do so the following year, which is now. Last weekend, Rob and I hatched yet another evil plan for world domination. What if we had a 4-person team that went really hard in the 12 hour class? At midnight we are done. We can hang out and have fun afterwards. I talked to Kyle at the Iowa Games MTB Race and he says there will be such a class. I think we own it.

Levi Leipheimer -

Chrisy and I have played the Levi Leipheimer drinking game in the past. So far in this year's Tour, Levi has been pretty invisible. We are a couple of days behind, and that could change now that we are in the Alps, but we are a little thisty right now. Part of my success this Saturday was due to Levi's lack of success in the Tour so far.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Iowa Game Road Race Report

Christy and I showed up at Boone for my first Iowa Games road race. I wasn’t expecting much from my performance, because I had a hard day yesterday, and because there were two big hills (It is well documented that I suck at climbing).

I warmed up with Bruce Reese and Aaron Bieker. We went out and reviewed the finish line area, and planned out a strategy (it went out the window later). Apparently we were a bit tardy returning from our warm-up, and we were rewarded with a spot in the back of a 60+ person field. Good thing there was a neutral rollout.

Amanda is at the starting line wondering where we are:

Neutral rollout to me means that you can't attack past the roll-out vehicle. It doesn’t you can’t move around in the pack. So, I moved up near the front as we moved out of town. By the time we got to the end of the rollout, I was fifth wheel – just where I wanted to be.

Out in the country the pace was reasonable, and the conversation was great. I chatted with Amanda about her lack of windbreak, and with Steve Reynolds about Rob’s new baby (Congratulations Rob!).

After that things turned ugly. We went down into the DM river valley and I was expecting it to be fast. I’ve descending into this valley before and have seen 52 MPH doing it. I’ve not done it in a group, but I didn’t expect any issues. I was wrong.

Somewhere on the way down I must have touched the wrong brake, or touching any brake was wrong, or it had nothing to do with brakes. All I know is that my front end started head-shaking like it was gonna fall off. Holy Crap! I thought I was going to go down at 50 MPH! I held on and tried to steady it (good thing I’m a mountain biker). Eventually the head shaking stopped, but I was shaken. I never recovered.

On the climb up the other side I had several people compliment my riding skills (as they went past) for holding it together. But they still went past.

I tried to get a group together after the climb, but it only succeeded until the next climb. Then they left me. Oh, well. I finished the race.

All of the cool kids from the 1 lap hanging out after the race (Steve Reynolds, Bruce Reese, me, Scott Sumpter, Amanda, and a couple of folks from DMOS that I didn't know):

You see all types of riders in the Iowa Games:

Oh, Chris Hansen didn't win a race this weekend. He won two! Last night, he won the Cat 4 Papillion night crit by lapping the field. Today he won the the Iowa Games two lap road race in convincing fashion.

Here he is in the breakout trying to push the other guy over the finish line:

Afterwards he waited for the rest of the field at he finish line:

That guy has something.

Happy Birthday

Today is my blog's birthday. My blog is one year old today!

If you are taking the time to read this, let today also be the day you decide make a comment on this post to let me know you are out there. Writing to myself can get boring at times.

Thanks for reading! Here's to another year of useless drivel and snivel.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Home Court Advantage

The day started early, with Christy and I rolling out about 6:00 am to head for her Iowa Games Triathlon at Don Williams Lake. There was a huge crowd at Don Williams! In addition to the 400 athletes, there must have been at least that many spectators.

I also saw all types of competitors and bikes. There was everything from full carbon Cervelos and Quintana Roos, to grandmas riding hybrids and kids riding suspended mountain bikes. It was great to see them all out there competing.

Christy did great! She had a little trouble with slower swimmers, and settled for their pace rather than hers, but it was her first tri, and that’s all a part of the learning experience.

I hated to do it, but she made me leave for the mountain bike race as she was transitioning from the bike to the run. She later told me that she finished strong.

So I got to the race at Peterson’s with just enough time get signed in, dressed, and do a little warm-up (I didn’t really need a pre-ride, as I could ride the place blind folded). During my warm-up, I tried to size up my competition. Hmm, Bruce Brown, Bruce Reese, and Sterling Heise have all been faster than me lately. I also picked out CICC roadies Tom Eaton and Shawn Loomis as guys to watch.

There must have been 40-50 people in the sport class (and only 10-12 in expert). I lined up on the front row next to Sterling. At the gun, I jumped on his wheel. The pace on the gravel on the gravel was surprisingly comfortable, but since I was already where I wanted to be (5th) I resisted the urge to jump ahead. When Sterling started to fade, I moved around him. I think I was sixth going into the woods, just behind Tom Eaton. During the woods leg, I chatted with Tom about the dust from the leading bikes. I was surprised at how relaxed and composed I felt, and how I wasn’t out of breath. In the next gravel section I went by Tom, leaving just Bruce Reese, a Bike Masters guy, and the two leaders in front of me.

When we came out of the little section off the parking lot on the east side, the two guys in front were starting to get away, so I yelled to Bruce that we should jump on it so that they didn’t get a gap. We tried to close the gap on them, and in the process passed the Bike Masters guy. Bruce and I tried working together, but even then we couldn’t do much to close the gap to 1 and 2.

We stayed that way until somewhere in the second lap when Bike Masters guy got around Bruce and I. I tried to get past Bruce a few times, but just didn’t have enough to do it. He was faster in the open stuff, and I would catch back up in the tighter stuff. This was mostly because, like I said earlier, I can ride the place blindfolded. I had a home court advantage, and was trying to use it however I could.

In the final lap as Bruce and I tried to catch the Bike Masters guy, I also heard someone on my tail from time to time (I later found out it was Shawn Loomis). He would also gain on me in the open areas, and would gap him in the tight stuff. Fortunately the section before the finish was somewhat tight, so I used that to build the gap again, and held my place into the close.

I finished in 5th place overall, and 2nd in my age group (who knew the Bike Masters guy was so old!).

Sorry I was so long-winded on this one, but I was pretty happy with my performance, and wanted to get it written down.

What did I learn from this one:

  • The Salsa was flawless today. I was one with the bike.
  • The 29 inch tires were greate in the sand.
  • The NanoRaptors were also great in the sand.
  • I seem to be racing my way into shape. I’ve raced five of the last seven weekends. My performance seems to be getting better each passing weekend.
  • I took the Chris Hansen approach to preparing for this race. No, I didn't have a hangover, but I did do it on 4 hours sleep.
  • Early in the race I vowed not to fade and lose the position that I had work so hard to get. I only lost one. Unfortunately it was to the Bike Master guy. He got Gold – I got Silver.
  • I forgot my heart rate monitor for the Green Days Crit. I haven’t worn one since. I’ll still wear it for training, but I don’t need it for racing.

Next up in the Iowa Games Road Race tomorrow morning. I’m doing the short (25 mile) race, and so is Bruce Reese. We’re already working on our plan for world domination . . .

Friday, July 13, 2007

Iowa Games Pre-Ride

I pre-rode the Iowa Games mountain bike race course at Peterson's tonight.

Patrick did a good job of marking it.

You would have to be a moron to get off course.

Peterson's has some challenges that you see at most mountain biking venues.

Some single track:

A few rooty climbs.

And it also has a few challenges that you don't see at other mountain bike races in Iowa.

There's lots of this:
Several patches of Poison Ivy:
And sand:
Lots of sand:
Lots and lots of sand:
There is a good line through the section. I know cause some friends and I made it one Saturday at a work day. Can you see it? Will you see it tomorrow? I will.
The cool thing about Peterson's and the Iowa Games is that it has gotten a lot of people started in mountain bike racing in Iowa. I'm one of them, and I know of a few others like me.
I'll be a little late getting there tomorrow morning because I'm going to go support Christy at her first triathlon tomorrow morning at Don Williams lake over by Ogden.
Save me a parking spot!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Oakley Radars

Over the weekend Rob loaned me pair of the new Oakley Radars with G30 lens. I used them in the race on Sunday. It was like I wasn't wearing sunglasses at all. With some sunglasses it take a while for your brain to get used to wearing them. That wasn't the case with the Radars. The moment I put them they felt very natural, and I forgot they were there.

If I could only have one pair of sunglasses (perish the thought), they would have G30 lenses. I have G30s for my Half Jackets, and I've used them in sun, overcast, cloudy, snow, and nearly dark conditions. I've never been disappointed. I see a pair of Radars with G30 lenses in my future.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Clear Lake Road Race

Christy and I went to Clear Lake for the Road Race today. Actually we went up on Saturday night because Oakley Rob told he was going to be there on Saturday, and we couldn’t resist the chance to spend a few quality hours hanging out with Rob.

While catching up over dinner and a few beers, we hatched an evil plan for world domination of the Clear Lake cat 5 race. More about that later.

We arrived at the Surf Ballrom on Sunday morning for the race.

Bruce Neil - Mechanic Extrodinaire:

Lots of Team 14 going on:

The Cat 4 Team 14 crew:

No wonder its so windy up here. They had these big fans everywhere running full blast during the whole race. Gotta keep the rich folks at the lake cool I guess.

I've observed that there are two types of road racers. This first type tries to try to hang with the main group and hopes for the best in a sprint, and the second type tries to blow the main group apart and lets the gods of fitness sort it out. Depending on the race, any racer can find themself in either category. Today, because I was teamed up with Rob, I found myself in the second group for the first time.

Rob and I had concocted a plan to go on a suicide break sometime near the end of the windward leg of the race. On the way out, I chatted with Carl Buchanan, and invited him to join us in our evil plan. He was eager to join in, as he was riding alone.

There was a single rider break or two going out, but it was nothing to be concerned about. We let them dangle out front, but they always came back. While going out into the wind, Rob, Carl, and I all spent a fair amount of time on the front. It was great to be setting the pace, but it was more effort that we wanted to give. Oh, well.

Finally, when we were about 2 miles from turning with the wind, things lined up. Rob was close to the front (but not on the front), I was on was on his wheel, and Carl was on mine. And, we had a clear shot to the front.

I said to Rob, “Rob, go”.

He said “You mean now?”.

“Yes, go!”.

It was to be the break that would stick to the end. Unfortunately I was not able to hang with the break that I helped to create. About seven of us got away. I was the first to drop (it figures). I think the rest stayed away until the finish. I faded badly after that, but I did what I came to do.

Oh, and Chris Hansen won ANOTHER race! Afterwards Chris gave the shocker to the 3rd place finisher. That guy chose to leave the podium rather than submitting to the continued abuse.

Friday, July 06, 2007

A Little Thinking

I''ve been doing a little thinking about last week's XC race at Boone. Here's what I've come up with:
  1. I think I've finally got all of the shifting issues resolved with the Sasla. Lets see, I replaced the chain, a chain ring, cassette, cables, and housings. Yup, that fixed it. Mud races are expensive. I knew that when I threw my leg over the bike at Waverly. At the time Kyle and I discussed riding to the top of the gravel hill, and DNFing, but it didn't happen. Next time I race in the mud it will be on a single speed.

  2. The 29er wheels rocked at Boone. I cleared the "G" out both times, and cleared a few switchbacks (because of momentum and tires) that weren't doable last year. And I didn't have any issues in the tight stuff. That bike is really starting to grow on me.

  3. The WTB Nanoraptors also rock. I was able to stand up and crank on climbs where I would have spun out last year on 26er Michelin XCR drys. Both tires were running slimed tubes at 40 psi. I don't know if it is the tires, or the bigger contact patch of the 29er tire. Frankly, I don't care. I've found my hard pack tire. We'll see how it works at Iowa Games next weekend, although I also considering running a 'cross tire for that race (for that matter I'm also considering riding a 'cross bike). We shall see.

  4. Climbing up the Boone ski hill 10-12 times sucks when you are still 20 lbs. overweight. OK, 20 lbs over cycling weight. Around the office I'm known as the skinny guy.

  5. Troy, Kyle, Ron and the rest have done a great job with Boone. I should ride there more often. I would if I weren't racing most weekends. Oh, well.

  6. You would think that racing seven weekends out of the last twelve, I would be in better shape. Well , OK . . . that I would have better results. Oh, well.

  7. This is really all just training for 'cross season!

We'll see you in Clear Lake!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Boone XC Race

I raced at Boone yesterday. Like I said, I haven't ridden there since last year's Boone 24, even though I consider it my home riding area. Pretty pathetic, huh? Due to the weather this season, most of my riding has been confined to gravel and/or pavement. Oh well.

So I showed up in time to BS, but not pre-ride. Two laps at Boone is enough to test my fitness. A pre-ride lap would do more to slow me down that it would to speed me up.

At one point before the race there was a group of central Iowa's MTB elite had gathered around my tailgate. I went to take a picture, and my camera battery was dead - Damn!

The race went as expected for me. I'm a fat old man on a bike, and Boone does not play to my strengths (what are my strengths again?). I'm not sure why I target this race, other than is is close to home, and is supposed to be my "home court" advantage.

The next two races on my schedule do play to my strengths - the Clear Lake road race (wheel sucking on flat ground), and the Iowa Games mountain bike race (its really a dirt road race). We shall see . . .